5 Ways to Move Forward After Experiencing Failure

5 Ways to Move Forward After Experiencing Failure

“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well have not lived at all, in which case you have failed by default.” -J.K. Rowling

When I see people posting the phrase, “You only regret the chances you didn’t take,” my first thought is that it is written by people who haven’t taken any chances. Because if you take risks, you’re going to get burned. And I can tell you from experience, there is a pile of regret that comes from all that burn.

Some of that regret is born from shame, because the experiences taught you how much of a fool you were.

I remember being cocky, standing up and declaring my way was best. I remember telling myself that everyone who warned me against changing was blind, and then they all watched as I came crashing down in flames.

Some of the regret will be because you’ve hurt other people, or lost valuable time.

How many times have I denied my children something in the present to sacrifice for a better tomorrow?

Whatever the case may be, there’s rarely a failure that doesn’t leave a mark.

These marks are inevitable when you’re doing something different. When you dare to branch out of all that’s been figured out for and about you. When you say, “No! I want to live my own way!”

An epic life definitely bears it’s consequences. But in a way, that’s what makes it epic. If it were easy, it wouldn’t be very exciting would it?

So how do you bounce back and keep going? How do you continue to chase your dreams without developing a bitterness and running back into the status quo where it’s safe and everything is figured out for you? Because according to highly successful people like Richard Branson,

“The ability to bounce back after a setback is the single most important trait an entrepreneurial  venture can posses.”

1. Rediscover your why

Many times when we’re chasing a dream and charging through the practical steps it takes to get there, we can lose sight of why we were doing it in the first place. This is especially true if others who are chasing something similar are doing it for different reasons. As they share their motives, we may think, “Well that makes sense,” and trade it out with our own.

The problem is, deep convictions are born from emotional motivators, not logical ones. And in our society, emotional convictions are harder to justify than logical ones, so we brush them aside.

But if we lose sight of the picture that drove us into chasing our dream in the first place, it can be easy to give up when we experience setbacks. We are no longer emotionally attached to the prize at the end of the road in the same way we were before, because it’s no longer personal.

Take the time out to meditate on what really motivates you. It might not look attractive to others, but if it matters to you, then hold onto it and use it’s power to drive you forward.

2. Identify the negative faces in your mind

Many times when we experience a setback, there is a certain person, or group of people, whose opinion is now making us feel small. They are usually the people who stand behind the lifestyle we are fighting against, or those who doubted our success.

Originally, we were able to fight against their opinion by believing our way was better and we’d show them in the end, but when we fail at a task or don’t see the results we originally wanted, we picture their faces in our minds, and feel shame. Suddenly, we are the fool, and we begin to wonder if we were the ones who were wrong all the while.

Identifying their faces, and calling them out is a great place to start. Do you really think they’re right, or are you just worried about their judgement? Do you really care what they think? What’s the truth?

Bringing this to the front of your consciousness, instead of letting it shame you passively, will help you to battle it. Then move onto the next step.

3. Brain wash yourself with the perspective you need

There is power in positive brainwashing. All this really means is that you need to retrain your mind to value a different set of rules than what it grew up knowing. We have to combat our culture, because when times get tough, and fatigue sets in, we will take the easy path our comfort zone offers.

Read books, talk to encouraging people, and do whatever it takes to convince your mind that you’re not crazy. Belief is the ultimate motivator towards success. Because whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right. And having resources that tell you you can, will help you to believe. Perspective is everything.

4. Face your fears

The interesting thing about fears is that they are rarely as scary as they seem when you face them head on. It’s almost as if they are great at making their shadows look huge by playing tricks with the light, but as soon as you turn around and stare them in the eye, you can see them for what they are.

What is it that you fear if you continue to move forward? What do you fear if you were to give up? Ask the real questions.

Is your fear big enough to stop you in your tracks? Are you rationalizing your fear and turning it into “sound logic”, making excuses for why you can’t move forward? Are your fears valid? They may be. If they are, is there something you can adjust to avoid that consequence?

Don’t brush your fears under the rug, or let them taunt you from afar. Stare them straight in the eye and make them account for themselves. This will give you a clearer head to make your decisions less fear based, and more reality based.

5. Keep walking forward

Even when your belief is in the toilet and you can’t even imagine the end goal anymore, trust your previous instincts and just keep walking forward. Look at your failure, tweak strategies if you need to, but whatever you do, don’t stop.

Go through the steps even when it’s not exciting. Keep walking when you are working through all your emotions and trying to regain your belief. Because the walking, in and of itself, may just pull you right out of your funk. You will increase your self-trust, your efforts may start being rewarded, and new doors could start opening to you. But if you just stop.

There’s nothing.

Dealing with a failure is hard. It leaves it’s mark. But if you can bounce, it will become your story. Those failures will be what deepened you. They’ll be the very thing you’ll be able to hold onto when you’re wondering how you got so lucky as to be where you are. You’ll remember how you stood back up and tried again. And no one will be able to take that from you.

-Tara Schiller


Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.

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